February 23, 2010
“The Bach Festival really is one of the polished gems in the crown of the Central Florida region and certainly one of the chief ornaments of Rollins College,” said critically-acclaimed author and classical-music and fine-art critic for The Wall Street Journal Barrymore Laurence Scherer during his pre-festival lecture on Saturday, Feb. 20. Celebrating its 75th Anniversary, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park opened this commemorative season with an Anniversary Mass. The program featured exceptional classical music selections highlighting the breadth of the Festival’s repertoire over the past three quarter century.
Winter Park’s Bach Festival is the third oldest of all the Societies across the country and has been under the direction of only six conductors throughout its extended history. Having always provided the Rollins and surrounding community with quality cultural experiences, the Festival’s rise to becoming a leader among society-enriching organizations can directly be attributed to the outstanding and superior vision of current Artistic Director and Conductor John Sinclair. Having served at the helm of the Festival for 20 years, Sinclair holds the title of longest tenured conductor in the history of the Festival’s existence.
“The wise and sensitive artistry of John Sinclair adds value that is simply matchless,” said Scherer. Yet, John Sinclair humbly believes his duty is purely to carry on the rich tradition established by the conductors before him.
“I am merely standing on the shoulders of my predecessors,” said Sinclair.
Scherer went on to explain the significance of Winter Park’s Bach Festival. “At a time when classical music must constantly defend itself in order to stay relevant, to live in an area that is this beautiful with such gifted musicians playing the best music is an unequaled opportunity for the people of the surrounding community. It is as close to any kind of a musical paradise as I’ve ever seen.”
An air of heavenly splendor was certainly conveyed through the masterworks performed. The 2 1/2 hour concert included instrumental compositions by J.S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi as well as choral works by Haydn, Handel and Mozart. Featured soloists included Rollins Music Department faculty members Julia Foster, assistant professor of voice and opera, Joni Roos, adjunct professor of violin and viola, and Curtis Rayam, adjunct professor of voice, each of whom displayed their virtuosity and mastery with ease. The concert even included a group sing-a-long of J.S. Bach’s “O Sacred Head,” during which audience members were encouraged to stand and sing along with the choir and orchestra. Music and lyrics were provided in the program.
The Bach Festival’s 75th Anniversary season continues in the Knowles Memorial Chapel on Saturday, Feb. 27, with a concert combining the works of Mendelssohn and Mozart. For more information on upcoming Bach Festival events, please visit http://www.bachfestivalflorida.org/
-Justin Braun (MBA Class of 2011)